In a win for a group of Democratic voters, a three-judge panel ruled Monday that the former chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee must turn over emails and other documents about the 2011 redistricting of Ohio’s legislative maps. In May, a coalition of Democratic voters and groups, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, sued Governor John Kasich and other Republican lawmakers in Cincinnati federal court. They urged the court to enjoin a redistricting statute that the GOP used to redraw maps, arguing it gave an unfair advantage to Republicans at the expense of Democratic voters. The Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, an advocacy group for black trade unionists, and its co-plaintiffs claim the Republican State Leadership Committee sought to control the redistricting process to “solidify conservative policymaking at the state level, and to maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.”
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohioans are closer to getting new voting machines. Secretary of State Jon Husted has notified county boards of elections they can start the process of selecting new equipment. “Ohio’s voters will soon say goodbye to aging voting equipment that pre-dates the first generation iPhone,” Husted said in a statement Thursday. State lawmakers approved the Voting Equipment Acquisition Program this year. It sets aside $104.5 million to purchase new equipment for Ohio’s 88 counties. Under the program, each county’s commissioners can select a voting system, equipment and services from five voting system vendors.
Ohio: Court orders boards of election to count provisional ballots in midterms for certain voters purged from rolls | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered boards of election in Ohio to count provisional election ballots for the 2018 midterm elections that are cast by certain people previously purged from the state’s voter rolls. A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that votes cast by people purged from the rolls between 2011 and 2015 must be counted if they still live in the same county of their last registration and if they are not disqualified from voting because of a felony conviction, mental incapacity or death. The panel’s injunction comes as progressive advocacy groups appeal Senior U.S. District Judge George Smith’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted that said notices the state sent to inactive voters were inadequate under federal law. Should the groups be successful on appeal, some voters may be wrongly denied the ability to vote unless the injunction is in place, the panel wrote.
Ohio: Federal judge deals another blow to group challenging voter roll purge | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that notification forms Ohio sends to voters in its process to remove inactive voters from its rolls are compliant with federal law, dealing another blow to a group challenging the state’s voter purge process. The groups suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said all voters the state deleted from its rolls from 1995 through 2016 through a disputed process were actually removed unlawfully because the state’s notices for removal didn’t comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Senior U.S. District Judge George Smith disagreed in an opinion issued Wednesday, largely ruling against the plaintiffs and saying the forms complied with federal law. He struck down arguments from the plaintiffs that said voters weren’t told of the deadlines to respond to the forms and weren’t informed of the consequences of failing to respond.
Ohio: Challenge to Ohio’s voting roll purges persists after Supreme Court decision | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Three months after they lost a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to Ohio’s process for removing inactive voters from its rolls, the lawsuit’s plaintiffs are back in federal court with a related claim: the notification forms Ohio used to initiate voter removal are illegal. The plaintiffs say all voters the state deleted from the rolls from 1995 through 2016 through the disputed process upheld by the Supreme Court were actually removed unlawfully because the state’s notices for removal didn’t comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. On Sept. 14, the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and Larry Harmon asked U.S. District Judge George C. Smith to reinstate all eligible voters who were sent the deficient notices, or take other measures to protect their voting rights in next month’s election.
With Ohio facing a rare general election these days without major litigation hanging over the ballot process, voting rights groups on Wednesday staked out their hopes for future changes to make voting easier. The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, consisting of groups like the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the new All Voting is Local, called for automatic voter registration for those eligible to vote, expanded early voting hours and days, and improvements in online voter registration. “When a quarter of those who are eligible are not registered and we have even worse turnout rates, we understand that the system is clearly not working,” League Executive Director Jen Miller said. While none of these proposed changes could happen in time to affect the Nov. 6 election, these discussions have been incorporated into the debate over who will succeed Secretary of State Jon Husted. The next secretary of state will be either state Sen. Frank LaRose (R., Hudson) or state Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D., Kent).
Armed with keyboards and processors, Ohio’s newest security force may one day deploy not to deal with natural disasters, but rather network disasters. Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, Ohio’s adjutant general, said that under the direction of Gov. John Kasich, he started the Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee to determine what Ohio needs to do to improve cybersecurity and training. Part of those efforts, he said, is to create an Ohio Cyber Reserve Force, a team of civilian information-technology experts that could be activated by the governor, working for the Ohio National Guard, to respond to major cyberattacks against state or local infrastructures. “If there is a major incident within the state then the governor could call them out and put them on state active duty, just like we do with the National Guard,” Bartman said.
Ohio: Republican officials lose bid to dismiss gerrymandering suit over congressional map | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Three federal judges have rejected a request by Republican elected leaders in Ohio to dismiss a lawsuit that says the judges should toss out the state’s congressional district map because it’s gerrymandered. Judges Karen Nelson Moore, Timothy Black and Michael Watson ruled Wednesday that the constitutional violations the group challenging Ohio’s map allege are still germane despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issue from earlier this year.
A three-judge panel on Wednesday declined to throw out a gerrymandering lawsuit against Republican officials in Ohio, finding that a group of Democratic voters established legal standing to bring the challenge. In May, a coalition of Democratic voters and groups, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, sued Governor John Kasich and other Republican lawmakers in Cincinnati federal court. They urged the court to enjoin a 2011 redistricting statute that the GOP used to redraw maps, arguing it gave an unfair advantage to Republicans at the expense of Democratic voters. Republicans would win 12 congressional districts and Democrats four districts, even as the statewide share of the vote for each party shifted over three congressional elections between 2013 and 2016.
A new generation of voting machines may soon be on the way thanks to a bill signed by Gov. John Kasich, which will allow $114.5 million to be distributed among Ohio’s 88 counties. “New” generation, however, may mean taking a step back in time. Voters in 41 counties, including Butler, Montgomery and Greene, have been using direct-recording electronic voting machines, or DREs, which requires the use of a touchscreen. But now, more counties are considering using paper ballots, as no DRE machine is currently certified for use in Ohio. That leaves many counties looking at a switch to paper ballots and optical-scanning equipment to count ballots, or hybrid systems coming at more than twice the price that employ touchscreens to mark a paper ballot. “I know people think that’s going backwards,” Butler County Board of Elections Director Diane Noonan said. “But you have to look at these machines and understand that paper is not what they think it is.” Warren, Preble and Clark counties already use paper ballots.